In Washington, a bill called the Reproductive Parity Act is going through Congress. If passed it would ensure that insurance plans that are included in the exchange would continue to cover abortion, (as they do right now). Governor Inslee called for the Washington State Senate to vote on the bill.
The Reproductive Parity Act is the name given to bills that would, if passed into law, help women in Washington to maintain their current health insurance coverage when the state health insurance exchange opens in October of 2013. Washington already includes coverage for abortion in health plans that include coverage for maternity.
In early 2012, the Washington House of Representatives passed bill HB2330. This means that the House voted to pass the Reproductive Parity Act into law. Before a bill can become a law, it must pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate, (and then be signed by the Governor of the state).
In 2012, the Washington Senate decided to simply ignore the Reproductive Parity Act. They didn’t vote against it – they decided not to hold a vote at all. The result was that the Senate was able to kill the Reproductive Parity Act for that session without allowing the Senators to cast a vote about it.
On Monday, February 18, 2013, a crowd of 250 people, who support the Reproductive Parity Act, gathered at the state’s Capitol. Governor Jay Inslee called for an up or down vote in the Senate on the Act. He said:
Washington state doesn’t deserve just a hearing on the Reproductive Parity Act. It deserves a vote in the state Senate on the Reproductive Parity Act. We are going to insist that we are not going to let anybody close the door to democracy in this state.
Previously, Governor Inslee said:
I’m down here making sure that my 17-year-old daughter has the kind of protections that we need in Washington state and that all of our kids have those same protections.
It is worth pointing out that, if made into law, the Reproductive Parity Act would require most insurers in Washington to cover abortion in their health plans. There is wording in the Act that would grant exemptions to insurance carries that object to covering abortion on religious grounds. The bill does not require federal dollars to be used for covering abortion.
It remains to be seen if the Senate will do the right thing, and allow the Senators to cast a vote (either for or against) the Reproductive Parity Bill. There is no good reason to prevent the Senators from casting a vote on a bill.
Image by Cyndy Sims Parr on Flickr